There are only so many times a squad can recover from early deficits. And the women’s lacrosse team learned this lesson the hard way yesterday afternoon.
After completing comeback wins in their first two games, the No. 10 Bulldogs (2-1, 0-0 Ivy) recorded their first loss of the season, dropping an 8-7 heartbreaker to New Hampshire (2-2) at Johnson Field. Despite six goals from attacker Lauren Taylor ’08, the Elis fought an uphill battle the entire game, never managing to pull ahead after falling behind 3-0 in the first 12 minutes.
“It’s early in our season and this is a game we can and must learn from,” head coach Laura Field said. “We need to get back to our trend of balanced scoring, and we need to play smart lacrosse.”
In the opening half, the underdog Wildcats built up a 6-4 lead, relying on the cushion of three early goals to maintain an edge, while the Elis worked to shift the momentum of the game in their favor. All of the Bulldogs’ goals came from a familiar source — perennial leader Taylor, who was held pointless for the first time in 26 games against No. 16 James Madison on Saturday — as the home team chipped away at UNH’s initial lead. Taylor wasted no time getting back into the scoring column yesterday, tallying three unassisted goals and one off a feed from attacker Meredith Callahan ’08 in the first half alone.
It was not until the Wildcats widened their lead to 7-4 just 28 seconds into the second period, however, that the Bulldogs truly began their comeback. Captain Kat Peetz ’08 started the Eli surge with a free position goal with 18:23 left in the second and Taylor added her fifth and sixth to knot the score at 7-7 with 10:27 remaining on the clock.
But the score stayed tied for only seven seconds. UNH’s Shaunna Kaplan won the subsequent draw control, carried the ball downfield and buried it in the back of the net to reclaim a one-goal lead for the Wildcats. Despite several more chances, including a drive by midfielder Jenn Warden ’09 and a Taylor shot that sailed just wide of the pipes, the Bulldogs could not get on the board in the final minutes.
Coming off of a 10-9 win over JMU on Saturday — a game Peetz called a “classic example of a total team effort” — the loss was disappointing for the Bulldogs, who were looking to maintain their pristine record and win a 13th-straight home game yesterday. Only three Elis contributed points in yesterday’s game, compared with six in the victory over the Dukes.
Although Yale had an edge in shots on goal, ground balls and free position shots, one area where the team struggled was in winning draw controls. Callahan said draw controls were one of the weakest aspects of the Bulldogs’ game against JMU on Saturday. The squad continued to have difficulties yesterday, winning just seven of 17. At a few crucial points in the game, lost draw controls opened the door for the Wildcats to maintain possession of the ball for several minutes at a stretch.
The Bulldogs will have a number of chances to redeem themselves over the next two weeks as they spend spring break in New Haven preparing for Ivy competition and, hopefully, another bid to the NCAA tournament. They head north to the Bay State next week to face Boston College and Massachusetts before returning home for their Ancient Eight opener against Penn on March 15.
“We are capable of rebounding from this loss, but it means translating [yesterday’s] lessons into tangible results on the field,” Field concluded.